Yoritsune Matsudaira – Sa-Mai

Yoritsune Matsudaira (松平 頼則 Matsudaira Yoritsune?, May 5, 1907, Tokyo, Japan – October 25,[1] 2001 in Tokyo, Japan) was a Japanese composer of contemporary classical music.
Yoritsune Matsudaira
(...) Sa-Mai (Left Dance) was composed in Tokyo in 1958. After winning a prize at the ISCM festival, the work was first performed in Rome on 15th June, 1959, by Michael Gielen and the Naples Radio Chamber Orchestra. Danza Rituale e Finale (Enbou) was written in Tokyo in 1959 to a commission from NHK and was first given on 28th November of the same year by Hiroyuki Iwaki and the NHK Symphony. Independent pieces as they are, these three works can be considered as a set, since they are all controlled by a single series: A#-B-A-G#-G-D-C#-C-E-D#-F-F#. This series consists only of four crucial intervals in Gagaku (semitone, whole tone, major third and perfect fourth), which can endlessly produce Gagaku patterns. In addition to this, these three works have a close relationship with Bugaku (dance music) in Gagaku. Splitting the first part and the second part of Danza Rituale e Finale (Enbou) and rearranging each component in proper order will form a suite which fits traditional Bugaku performance. The performance in this recording follows this.

Bugaku was performed both for entertainment and religious purposes, and in the latter case Enbou was danced to purify the stage and the space. Enbou means ‘pike’, with which to exorcise the evil spirit. It is accompanied by two yokobues (flutes: ryuteki and komabue) and percussion, and it is thoroughly improvisational in mood. Solo and canon in duet by the yokobues alternate and the percussion punctuates. In Danza Rituale e Finale, Enbou is serially metamorphosed. The original solo by the yokobue is represented in the Preludietto and Coda (both scored for solo piccolo, triangle and bass drum), and the canon is treated in Preludio (scored for piccolo, flute, oboe, small clarinet and percussion). In Preludietto, Matsudaira employs aleatoric methods, following Stockhausen and Boulez, to express vividly the improvisational feeling of Enbou. Preludietto consists of thirteen fragments. The first one should be played first, but the rest can be shuffled. In Preludio, consisting of nine fragments, and Coda, with seven fragments, the order from the third onwards can be arranged freely. In this recording each fragment of Preludietto and Coda is tracked so that the listener can freely rearrange the order, but the fragments of Preludio are not tracked, because they are played without pause.

In traditional Bugaku, Enbou is followed by Sa-Mai (Left Dance) and then by U-Mai (Right Dance). Sa-Mai is performed by a dancer in red who appears from the left of the stage, and accordingly the movements of the left side of the body are stressed. There exist many pieces for Sa-Mai, most of which are said to have been Japanized after their introduction from ancient China. Instrumentation is only for wind and percussion, without strings. Its sound is noble and graceful, and the rhythm on percussion tends to be blurred. U-Mai is danced by a dancer in green who appears from the right side of the stage, and the movements of the right side of the body are emphasized. U-Mai is also reflected in many pieces, most of which are said to have been introduced from ancient Korea. Instrumentation is also for wind and percussion but, unlike Sa-Mai, without the sho (mouth organ) which produces celestial chords. As a consequence, the sounds of komabue and hichiriki (oboe) are heard with a distinct percussion ostinato rhythm. In that sense U-Mai is more simple, more powerful and more scherzo-like than Sa-Mai. Matsudaira’s Sa-Mai and U-Mai successfully reflect this left-against-right characteristic of Bugaku in its total serialistic sound.

Sa-Mai is based on the dance music Genjo-Raku in the Taishikicho tonality from Sa-Mai, and is scored for ten wind instruments including saxophone, a variety of percussion, celesta, harp, piano and fourteen strings (which mainly imitate the sho chords). Genjo-Raku is said to have originated in ancient China, depicting barbarians from the west (who customarily eat snakes) delighted to find snakes. In Introduzione the Enbou from Danza Rituale is played once again. The canonic Preludio accompanies the entry of the dancer (which is called Derute), Interludio depicts players tuning (Netori) before the main dance, Movimento Principale corresponds to the main dance, and the again canonic Finale accompanies the dancer’s exit (Irute).

U-Mai is based on the dance music Nasori in the Ichikotsucho tonality from U-Mai, and is scored for nine wind instruments, many kinds of percussion, harp, piano and string quartet. Nasori is said to be derived from the ancient Chinese court, depicting a couple (male and female) of dragons playing. This piece consists of three parts: Jo (Introduction), Ha (Development) and Kyu (Finale), each of which respectively corresponds to two dancers’ entry, excitement and exit. The latter half of Kyu with the ritardando mark accompanies the leaving dancers and, when they disappear, the music closes. This is because U-Mai, unlike Sa-Mai, does not have particular music for the dancers’ exit (Irute). The ritardando is improvisational, according to the scene. The composer instructs that Kyu can be terminated halfway, following the practice of U-Mai, although it is all played in this recording.

In the Bugaku performance, it is customary to play Chogeishi in the Taishikicho tonality without dance, after U-Mai and Sa-Mai. It is a noble piece composed by Hiromasa Minamaoto, a nobleman of the tenth century. The audience leave the hall while it is being played. Danza Finale is based on this Chogeishi and is scored for an irregular two-wind-based orchestra, including soprano and alto saxophones. The music is richer in timbre and more flexible in rhythm and tempo than Sa-Mai and U-Mai. The fantastic ritual of Bugaku Matsudaira created is closed by this colloidal, celestial music.

Morihide Katayama | naxos

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